STA-01-08, Comprehensive Revision of the Subdivision Ordinance



Work session regarding amendment to Chapter 14, Subdivision of Land, of the Albemarle County Code, to comprehensively revise the subdivision regulations by amending most existing regulations, repealing or adding other regulations, and reorganizing Chapter 14 and renumbering many existing regulations 



Messrs. Tucker, Foley, Davis, Kamptner, Graham, Cilimberg, Ms. Doherty






July 7, 2004


ACTION:                              INFORMATION:   X




  ACTION:                          INFORMATION:   













At their May 5, 2004 meeting, the Board directed staff to invite representatives of interested organizations to join them in a series of facilitated work sessions to discuss the four outstanding issues where the community has not reached consensus regarding the proposed amendments to the subdivision text amendment: interconnections, private streets, over-lot grading and urban street improvements (curb, gutter, sidewalks and planting strips).  On June 2, the Board held a work session on interconnected streets.  The work session scheduled for July 7 will cover the proposed changes regarding private streets and over-lot grading.



2.1 Protect and/or preserve the County’s rural character; and,

3.3  Develop and implement policies that address the County’s growth and urbanization while continuing to enhance the factors that contribute to the quality of life in the County.




Private Streets:  The existing ordinance allows the Planning Commission or the agent to authorize private roads under certain circumstances, but requires that the roads meet VDOT standards.   Under the proposed ordinance language, private streets could be allowed to a different standard that better incorporates the street concepts of the Neighborhood Model.   The proposed amendment allows agent approval for multi-unit developments and authorizes the Planning Commission to approve an alternative standard recommended by the county engineer.  The alternative street standards being proposed by the County Engineer incorporate considerations for streets in keeping with the Neighborhood Model.  Staff is not aware of concerns from the development community related to this language regarding private streets.  However, this issue is raised for discussion because the authorization of private streets may place a burden on the County if homeowners associations fail to maintain private streets that are not constructed to VDOT standards. If designed to the alternative standard, the private streets would not be eligible for conversion to public streets maintained by VDOT and would become the responsibility of homeowners associations or the County.  Assuming ownership and responsibility for private streets will become a significant issue for either the homeowners or the County and will need to be considered by the Board prior to adoption of the proposed ordinance amendment.  Staff intends to have a broader discussion with the Board at an August worksession on private streets and several other significant urban infrastructure needs precipitated by the County’s established objectives to increase density in the development areas.   


Over-Lot Grading:  The existing ordinance does not require grading plans for subdivisions.  Road plans include grading for the road, but the lot grading is not required.   The proposed ordinance includes a new section 14-313, which requires approval of an over-lot grading plan for the entire subdivision.  Staff recommends this new regulation as means of addressing the health, safety and welfare issues of developing to a higher density on steep slopes.  The new standards, which will be achieved with an over-lot grading plan, are summarized as follows:



In higher density developments there is less flexibility in the placement and construction of buildings and associated lot improvements.  The lot grading needs to be planned, designed, and then implemented to avoid problems with drainage, erosion, and safe & convenient access.  Staff is engaged with these problems today and recommends this new requirement regardless of the neighborhood model.  The development community has raised concerns with the cost of compliance, both in approval time and construction costs.   In response to these concerns, the proposed ordinance (Section 14-224.1) allows the agent to waive the requirements of Section 14-313 if it is determined that an alternative proposed by the subdivider satisfies the purpose of the requirement to at least an equivalent degree.  This waiver process was recommended for approval by the Planning Commission.  




After hearing from staff and invited groups, staff would appreciate the Board identifying any potential changes you feel are necessary to the recommended ordinance amendment.  Suggested changes will be reviewed with the Board prior to a public hearing.  




A – Relevant sections of the Subdivision Text Amendment, dated March 30, 2004, related to private streets and over-lot grading


B – June 21, 2004 Memorandum from County Attorney to County Board of Supervisors regarding supplemental response to Comment No. 14 in March 21, 2004 letter from James W. Theobald, Esq. at Hirschler Fleischer to  Neil Williamson


C –http://boardreports/ESAttachments/NMDRoadStdsevised9-12[1].xls


View DISC minutes of May 25, June 1 and June 8, 2004.


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